A Palmetto Elementary School student in Anderson School District One was recently diagnosed with Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. On June 15, 2013 the school was notified with the information. As soon as it could be verified, the district took measures to contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and follow the district plan for communicating such information, school officials said.
The process began with communicating with all parents of the school. Through the district’s notification system, Edulink, information was phoned, emailed and a letter was sent to parents notifying them of the confirmed case and providing information from DHEC.
The following information was shared with parents regarding this disease:
· Whooping cough is a serious, highly contagious disease caused by bacteria that can be especially dangerous for infants and children under 5 years of age.
· It is spread when people come into contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. It is very contagious and can spread, on average to 80 percent of those coming in contact with a sick person.
· Most children under 6 years of age have received a series of shots to protect them from whooping cough. However, that protection wears off in 5-10 years. That makes older children, teens, and adults more likely to contract the infection and spread it to others
· At first, symptoms are very similar to those of a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, occasional cough.
· One to two weeks after the first symptoms appear:
The cough gradually becomes more severe.
A hacking cough or cough spasm is often followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop.”
Some coughing spasms are so severe, they can lead to vomiting.
This advanced stage of the disease can last up to six weeks before the symptoms begin to gradually disappear.
Adolescents and adults often have milder disease (cold symptoms with a prolonged cough, commonly without the classic “whoop”).
The DHEC website advises that if you or your child develop a cold that includes a prolonged or severe cough, it could be whooping cough. If whooping cough is suspected, officials recommend should always contact your healthcare provider. The school will have a nurse on call to answer questions, District One officials said. Anyone with questions can contact the school or the Anderson District One Office.